Tag Archives: The Eight Mile Suspended Carnival

Woman’s best friend

American Kennel Club, past winner: 3rd Place Black & White; Lindsay Barnes; Sedalia, Missouri; Redbone Coonhound; Stolen from http://www.akc.org/pubs/family-dog/photo-contest/past-winners/

American Kennel Club, past winner: 3rd Place Black & White; Lindsay Barnes; Sedalia, Missouri; Redbone Coonhound; Stolen from http://www.akc.org/pubs/family-dog/photo-contest/past-winners/

The novel I’m revising is like a dear old hound dog. Waits for me on the porch, with an occasional, “woof” when the wind blows, until I remember to come over and give that dog something to chew on.

Belated, but still relevant: Thirteen

These are not my hands. But I like them.

These are not my hands. But I like them.

The cycle of living and dying continues…thankfully, so do words, and stories…and so I’m belatedly announcing the birth of Resurrection House XIII, an anthology of which editor Mark Teppo writes, “The ghosts of the past have been eaten by the children of the future: this endless cycle of birth, death, and renewal is the magic of thirteen.” Between the covers of XIII you will find my story, “Rabbit, Cat, Girl,” which I hope you will enjoy. (I’ve written about the process of writing this story here and elsewhere on the blog.)

More information about the anthology can be found at http://www.resurrectionhouse.com/up/thirteen/.

I’ve been relatively quiet on the blog lately. During the silence, I finished a reasonably far-along draft of my novel, The Eight Mile Suspended Carnival. And now my hands (and the rest of me) work on final-ish revisions of The Watery Girl.

My intention is that 2015 will be an interesting writing year. Please stay tuned.

Reading at Antioch College Local Writer Series

I'll be reading on Wed., Nov. 12, 7pm, at the Coretta Scott King Center at Antioch College.

I’ll be reading on Wed., Nov. 12, 7pm, at the Coretta Scott King Center at Antioch College.

I’ve been invited to read from my novels and shorter work at the Antioch College Local Writer Series. The reading will be on Wednesday, November 12, at 7pm at the Coretta Scott King Center at Antioch College (Livermore Street, across the street from the main Antioch towers). The event is free and open to the public, and I hear there will be snacks (and maybe a little glitter!).



Work to do.

I love my husband and my marriage.  We get to do this (my words in black, his in blue).

Found objects

I’ve had little time for writing lately.  But the intention, and the work when time allows, is to return to the brain of my novel in progress.  At intervals, when I approach the stack of notes, outlines, and diagrams, I find scrabbly handwritten pages, still to be typed up.  Today, three such forgotten pages included intricate ramblings that I don’t remember writing.  But based on the single sheets on which the words are written (not in the notebook, not on yellow legal paper) I recall now rushing to my daughter’s creative movement class, realizing I brought no work to do, and finding scrap paper.  The words on the paper were extra crazy and weird, abstract and also specific, really just a spew of stuff about the textures and elements of this novel.  If the last novel was water and air, this one is earth, metal, fire–so this is what the windings on those found pages contain.

“Just make some shit up,” my husband and I often say about writing fiction, part joke, part true.  For now, when it’s hard to get back into the novel’s essence, I am grateful for these odd scrabbles to type up.  Because I can always type.  And I trust the Wexlerian principle of just putting it all in, pile it on, see what fits.

The junk yard of words is in no hurry, will wait for me.

The ocean doesn’t want me today

Swimming beyond the breakers, being lifted gently, interpreting light and shadow on waves, a practice, being the human working and being carried by water and letting go of every possibility of knowing.

Feels like writing a novel.

In 2000, on my first trip to the beach with my then not-yet-husband, he and I went out swimming.  I kept trying to see if I could stand, kept trying to know where I was.  His advice: Don’t try to touch bottom.  It will only scare you if you can’t.  Just swim.  I am from inland, from clear chlorine pool swimming.  In that dark North Carolina water, full of who-knows-what, I learned about a certain kind of faith.  The kind of faith that teaches a body to trust that it will know what to do, that it will tend to survive.  Floating and swimming and rolling in those waves, I realized the novel I was beginning to write was like that.  Don’t try to touch bottom.  It will only scare you if you can’t.  Just swim.

This seems the only way of making something when you’re trying and there might be nothing there.  The cliched leap of faith, the answer to the question, “What else would I be doing with my life if not this?”

Twelve years later, still swimming, still trusting that a body will know what to do.

On the waves, writing another novel, still.


Or, says Tom Waits:

The ocean doesn’t want me today
But I’ll be back tomorrow to play
And the strangels will take me
Down deep in their brine
The mischievous braingels
Down into the endless blue wine
I’ll open my head and let out
All of my time
I’d love to go drowning
And to stay and to stay
But the ocean doesn’t want me today
I’ll go in up to here
It can’t possibly hurt
All they will find is my beer
And my shirt
A rip tide is raging
And the life guard is away
But the ocean doesn’t want me today
The ocean doesn’t want me today.

(Far from a review of) Heroes & Villains by Angela Carter

This is not my book, but there’s one like it on my desk. I wish you could see the cover up close.

There’s a book on my desk that I finished but can’t quite put away.  I want to blog about it but have not had time to be thoughtful, and the tapestry of its pages is still sinking into my soul.  It’s Heroes & Villains by Angela Carter.    My husband recommended it–he thought it would inspire me as I work on my new novel, because it’s  also about a young woman who loses (and maybe finds) herself in a world very different from the one she’s known.  (In my case, the protagonist has amnesia, so she doesn’t know what she’s known.)  And both lost/found young women get pregnant.  Reading this novel confirmed what I knew: I need to read much more Angela Carter.

As I read, I saw that my husband’s recommendation was eerily right on.  I am not comparing my work to Carter’s writing, but there are some similarities between my book and hers. How could I have known that the novel I’m working on has this kind of root source essence to dig into?  I read this novel too quickly; I didn’t give it the time and attention it deserved.  Now it sits prettily on my desk, wanting more of me, and me of it, but there’s no time right now.

All I can say is that it deserves more of me, and we will both have to wait.  But it will be worth the time, at least for me.

The Lucky Seven Meme

(Gratuitous photo of Jobs with Tangerine iBook because I wish I still had mine, unrelated to this post.)

Marly Youmans, author of the freshly-released novel A Death At The White Camellia Orphanage, tagged me on her lovely blog.  Marly is a wonderful writer, and if you haven’t read her work, you should.  As for the meme, I’m playing.  Below is from my novel in progress, The Eight Mile Suspended Carnival.

Here are the meme rules:

  • Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
  • Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are – no cheating!
  • Tag 7 other authors to do the same


Mim stopped herself telling Cleopatra anything about Beede.  She wanted to hold him inside herself, alone, to hoard him, as long as she could.  If she told of him, it would water down his essence.  And there was something hungry about Cleopatra that made Mim not want to share Beede with her in particular.  Tonight Cleopatra smelled sharp and musty, like she had been cooking remedies, or maybe she had been outside with a man, but Mim couldn’t separate the smells to divine which man, and Cleopatra never told when or if.

“Where did you come up with alabaster?” Cleopatra asked.

“Suspenders.”  Mim wanted an answer.


So with no intention to annoy, I’m tagging seven friends who write…

  1. Elaine Gale
  2. Candace Kearns Read
  3. Chris Tebbetts
  4. Cyndi Pauwels
  5. Jennifer New
  6. Jaime Adoff
  7. Jennifer Bennett

The twist of things

(Inspired by having read Mark Levine’s book, F5.)

March 2, 2012, remembering those skies of 1974

Toss words against chaos

see if something sticks

and undulates



like a twister


and here’s


I start



Who lost track past midnight at the Spurlock Munitions Factory, near-river, 1917?

The lovely ladies of some munitions works

A poem from a couple years ago, inspired by the novel I’m working on, working title of which is The Eight Mile Suspended Carvinal.  This is the character Beede talking.  I can’t do line breaks right in html, so I think the word “vast” was originally on the line above where it appears, but below it’s an orphan, which makes sense in the story of the novel at least.

Who lost track past midnight at the Spurlock Munitions Factory, near-river, 1917? 

Oh yes Oh yes Oh yes
What you’re to see, boys, you dark, dirty skells, you
seen plenty spark here, what else, you’re thinking
you constitute yourselves of solids, you’re commanding
gentlemen, can take some things, maybe you’ve traveled, say
Illinois, Illinoise, farther, it does not take ambitious nature
to see the world, just a slick hand and some loose pocket. Rust is everywhere–
Davey knows my language. So you did time, who hasn’t, all we got is time in this vast
bum’s end of things, I’ve spit up wet gobs of coal, we’re all the same
just don’t get caught. Once saw a man dangling from a shagbark hickory, by the neck, all of it, tree bark and scales fallen from those eyes, all I can say is use the brain-pan,
don’t get caught
and you won’t end up with any fallen scales, don’t laugh back there, it wasn’t all
that amusing seeing that man up there, the weight of himself dead
meat. He didn’t have much luck.

But you’ve stepped up around here, all of you,
waiting on that kiss which makes us all breathe in, every crusted morning, for the long years we’ve got, a kiss humid and lovely like that mind-reader at the carnival,
she’s got curves, wait another day and maybe you’ll find that luck somewhere. Factory life got you groaning, you’re thinking anew, ready for this
fire? Let me take off my shirt now. The way I do it, you won’t even see the spark,
just watch. Lucien B. Dunavant will show you the light.

You count your breaths; I’ll count mine. That old sack granddaddy Spurlock
has not one thing on me.

Ready, boys?